Rick Crane grew up in Memphis,TN, influenced by performers with great songs and integrity, such as The Beatles, BeeGees, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and, of course, Elvis. He began playing guitar at age 15 and worked at developing his own style, consumed with conveying emotion to the listener. After moving to Atlanta, GA, Crane released his first CD, Church of One, in 1997. It made quite a stir with critics. As he always favored the richness of male and female voices together, it was filled with female harmonies. Thus, an appropriate description for his music became 'Fleetwood Beatles.' Later, Crane formed Drawing Lines, a group to do live shows. Crane wrote the majority of the material and won two Billboard Songwriting Awards over the next few years. Drawing Lines performed all over local TV, music venues, showcases, festivals and along with Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and Michelle Malone, represented the best in Atlanta's music scene. The constant challenges of keeping a group together forced Crane to realize he must go solo. The new CD, aptly titled STRETCH, is his fourth release but, first solo offering. One listen and you're aware this represents his best work to date! The CD took two years to complete, and only through persistence, growth, and love, was it finished at all. The CD features Crane carrying the bulk of vocals, guitar, and some keyboards, and all the songs reflect his vast songwriting and musical talent. Supplementing Crane are vocalists Kristen Justice and Kristin Bach, award winning cellist Nan Kemberling, and the best studio players in Atlanta. Crane's passions are the continued development of his craft as a songwriter and touching people through words and music. In October, two songs from Stretch were used in a literature class at one of the University System Of Georgia colleges. Students analyzed 'The Long Lost Works of Benjamin Lloyd' and '30 Miles From Memphis' in relation to lyrics as literature. The students were asked to examine the lyrics in relation to literary elements such as narrative structures, images, allegories, and thematic messages. The professor, who is a fan of Crane's music, explained how the assignment came about: 'The textbook I use for the class has an excerpt from a Bruce Springsteen song. When I saw that, I decided to do a unit on lyrics, but I decided to use Rick's work.' Continuing, she added,' I'm using the lyrics unit as a springboard to the poetry section of the class. A lot of students fear poetry. They expect it to be confusing and complicated. They expect not to understand it. But all of the students relate to music. It's a big part of their lives. They feel comfortable with it. I think the best music lyrics have all the components that a good, classic piece of poetry has. That's why I decided to use Rick's songs. I wanted the students to examine the lyrics like they would examine any piece of literature. Therefore, I needed something well-written, deep, and complex enough to spend class time talking about. I also wanted something with a positive message.' Beyond that, this was a unique exercise for the students because the assignment allowed them to ask Crane himself questions. 'That is unusual,' the professor stated. 'Most of the time we study the works of people who are long dead or who, for various reasons, are inaccessible. It's a bonus for us to have an artist of his caliber who is local and who is willing to share his time. Several students had questions for Rick, which I forwarded to him. When I get his responses, I will share them with the class.' 'Overall, this turned out to be a great assignment,' the professor added. 'The students responded very positively to Rick's work. They were genuinely interested in and moved by the words and the messages of his songs. This was a great transition to our poetry unit. The interest and enthusiasm the students had for Rick's songs will launch us right into the poetry of John Donne, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Frost.' With a laugh she concluded with,'Hopefully their momentum will stay the same.'
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